While many countries are still evaluating the definition and approach they should take on blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, some have already put themselves not just in the driver’s seat but in the fast lane towards more commonplace crypto adoption. Here, in no particular order, are five countries that foster some of the most crypto-friendly environments in the world.
Malta is no doubt one that never fails to be mentioned. With three crypto and blockchain related bills approved last year, the country has been dubbed “blockchain island”.
It has become home to many major crypto exchanges, like Binance, OKEx, DQR, and ZB.com. Its annual Malta Blockchain Summit, the country’s initiative, is popular with the heavy hitters in the crypto community such as Gemini’s Bitcoin billionaire Winklevoss twins, computer security expert John McAfee, venture capitalist Tim Draper, Bitcoin Cash’s Roger Ver, and economist Nouriel Roubini.
Last year, Malta signed a declaration with seven other EU countries to promote blockchain adoption. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat declared during the UN General Assembly that blockchain makes crypto the “inevitable future of money”.
Malta’s openness in embracing crypto has not been complete without speed bumps, of course. Its highly pro-crypto stance attracted particular attention from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at the beginning of this year. IMF called on Malta then to beef up safeguards against money laundering risks tied to crypto exposure.
Not one to rest on its laurels, The Crypto Sight reported earlier this month that Malta has since appointed US blockchain forensics and intelligence firm CipherTrace to help it monitor crypto activity for compliance purposes.
It may not currently have any particular regulation in place to circumscribe blockchain and crypto, but Singapore has been open enough so far in allowing such businesses to operate relatively freely in line with its stance of being supportive of fintech.
Among the long list of fintech startups taking up residency in Singapore are several major crypto-related enterprises and exchanges, such as Litecoin, TenX, CoinGecko, Coinbene, and Huobi. The country’s crypto industry is expected to flourish further as other major crypto players like Binance are also working on expanding a presence there.
Last year, Singapore became the most favored country to launch initial coin offerings (ICOs), chalking up even more ICOs than in the US in August 2018. Its central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), even collaborated with major entities such as Nasdaq, Deloitte, and Anquan to help facilitate trades settlement.
That being said, all crypto-related businesses are obliged to register and comply with MAS’ regulations. It also regularly cautions the public against the risks of investing or transacting in such businesses that “fall outside the remit” of their rules. Moreover, all Bitcoin-related transactions are subjected to the country’s 7% GST (Goods and Services Tax), as Bitcoin is considered a good rather than currency or commodity.
While initially rather fickle about cryptocurrency, Switzerland has since come round and has been making several moves to support and promote the industry.
After revising regulations with its fintech regulatory body (FINMA), Switzerland introduced at the end of 2018 a new license allowing crypto and blockchain enterprises to receive up to $100 million in public funds.
Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange-traded products (ETP) have been offered on the Swiss stock exchange (SIX), and an XRP ETP is expected to be listed very soon. In the last few months alone, The Crypto Sight reported that Swiss banks such as Dukascopy, and Vontobel have been announcing the add-on of various crypto related services. Even Swiss luxury watchmaker A. Favre & Fils is working on incorporating a cold storage wallet in a new timepiece.
Tax-wise, however, crypto holdings must be declared and are subject to wealth taxes. Income tax is applied to cryptos earned through salary or mining activities, although only professional traders are subjected to capital gains taxes and offsets for losses.
Gibraltar is another country with welcoming regulations for cryptocurrency and blockchain. In the first half of 2018, a regulatory framework was introduced by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) to provide guidelines for companies using distributed ledger technology (DLT), including, but not limited to, crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, crypto payment services, and token issuers. Its framework also structures ICOs, and clarifies tax-related issues.
Later in the year, the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX) was launched to offer public trading for Bitcoin and Ethereum after local financial authorities approved its operation. Major crypto businesses such as CoinFloore, ToroX, and Coinbase have all set up shop there.
Gibraltar even took an extra step to create new blockchain courses at a local university to provide citizens with fundamental knowledge of blockchain through a partnership with leading tech companies in the country.
Currently, all businesses in the country have to bear a 10% tax rate, although a legal framework for crypto businesses to clarify tax issues is being formulated.
Argentina is increasingly adopting cryptocurrency in different sectors and businesses to truly drive mass adoption. In February, The Crypto Sight reported that public transport users are able to top up their commuter cards using Bitcoin in 37 localities across the country. In the same month, Argentina settled its first-ever export deal with another country (Paraguay) using Bitcoin.
Binance appears to be majorly interested in Argentina too. Earlier this month, Binance Labs’ announcement that it will back blockchain startups in Argentina as part of its incubator program was met with support from the Argentinian government. The latter said it will back these incubator projects with investments of up to $50,000 each.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has also hinted that Binance’s next fiat-to-crypto exchange could be in Argentina.